As an addition to medicines, psychosocial treatments, including some types of psychotherapy (or ‘talk’ therapy) may be helpful in providing support, education and guidance to people with bipolar disorder and their families. The number, frequency and type of sessions should be based on the needs of each person.

Psychosocial treatments commonly used in the treatment of bipolar disorder include:

  • Cognitive behaviour therapy helps people to learn to change inappropriate or negative thought patterns and behaviours.
  • Psychoeducation involves educating people about the illness and its treatment and how to recognise the signs of relapse (re-occurrence of the illness). Psychoeducation may also be useful for family members.
  • Family therapy aims to reduce family distress that may contribute to, or result from, the illness.
  • Interpersonal and social rhythm therapy helps people to improve their relationships with other people and to organise their daily routines.

These therapies may be provided by a psychologist, social worker or counsellor who works in combination with a psychiatrist to monitor the patient’s progress.